MICHE­LIN’S SE­CRET TO SUC­CESS

Qatar will see Mo­togp rid­ers us­ing the new con­trol tyres in anger, so what do they need to do to win?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp Preview - By Mat Ox­ley MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

fter seven sea­sons of Bridge­stone as of­fi­cial tyre brand, Mo­togp is switch­ing to Miche­lin. At last Novem­ber’s Va­len­cia tests the com­pany made a shaky, crash­strewn start to their five-year term as Mo­togp tyre sup­plier, but now rid­ers and teams are get­ting up to speed with the new rubber.

Dur­ing pre­sea­son test­ing at Sepang, Phillip Is­land and Qatar’s Lo­sail cir­cuit, many rid­ers bet­tered their 2015 lap times by sev­eral tenths of a se­cond. Miche­lin’s rear slick al­ready of­fers sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter per­for­mance than the Bridge­stone rear. How­ever, most rid­ers are still strug­gling to get enough feel from the front, leav­ing them con­cerned about front-end crashes. As al­ways, we will only know the full re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion once the rac­ing gets un­der­way.

MCN sat down with the guys that know all about rac­ing on both Miche­lins and Bridge­stones for an ex­clu­sive in­sight in to the se­crets of how they need to be rid­den.

ACal’s fast cor­ner­ing suc­cess

Bri­tain’s Cal Crutchlow is al­ready able to use 3mph more cor­ner speed on the Miche­lins than he was with Bridge­stone. Crew chief Christophe ‘Beefy’ Bour­guignon ex­plains what’s go­ing on:

“Miche­lin have made a huge im­prove­ment with the front tyre and I’m con­fi­dent we’ll keep get­ting bet­ter tyres. Al­ready Cal can use maybe three miles an hour more cor­ner speed than he could on Bridge­stones, but he is maybe one or two mph down on cor­ner en­try, while exit speed is about the same as be­fore.”

But Bour­guignon says Cal got off to a dif­fi­cult start when he first tried the new tyres: “At last Novem­ber’s Va­len­cia tests we strug­gled with feel­ing and grip on the front, es­pe­cially when the rider re­leased the front brake or opened the throt­tle. That was prob­a­bly due to an im­bal­ance in front-and-rear grip be­cause the rear had re­ally good grip and the front didn’t have enough.

“At Sepang we tested a new con­struc­tion front that was a big im­prove­ment. They also gave us a new pro­file front, which in­creased the con­tact patch and that was an­other clear im­prove­ment. It made the bike feel a lit­tle heav­ier, but gave the rider more feel go­ing in with the brake and more grip at max­i­mum an­gle in fast cor­ners.”

De­vel­op­ment didn’t stop there with Miche­lin tak­ing two dif­fer­ent pro­files to Fe­bru­ary’s Phillip Is­land test. There was a small im­prove­ment in per­for­mance but then at Qatar Bour­guignon says it felt like the tyres took a back­wards step. But he warns against draw­ing too many con­clu­sions from per­for­mance on two very dif­fer­ent tracks and pre­dicts more changes ahead.

“I think Miche­lin may adapt the front com­pound or con­struc­tion for the race be­cause some rid­ers had prob­lems in the triple right [Turns 12/13/14]. They spend a lot of time on an­gle there, with a re­ally high front tem­per­a­ture, be­cause the tyre doesn’t have time to cool down be­tween cor­ners, so the rider feels good in the first and se­cond cor­ners and then the front over­heats in the third.”

Bour­guignon says the new tyres have forced a change in ridng style too. “With Bridge­stones, if a rider wanted to do a fast lap he went in deeper on the front brake and with more lean an­gle, be­cause the more he braked with a lot of an­gle the more he in­creased the con­tact patch, so he could de­cel­er­ate bet­ter and turn bet­ter. You can’t ride like that with the Miche­lins. In­stead you start brak­ing in a straight line, then you re­lease the front brake and carry more cor­ner speed.

“Rid­ers are hav­ing prob­lems at the point where the bike needs to turn mid-cor­ner. They feel the front go from loaded to un­loaded, so the tyre is a lit­tle un­pre­dictable.

“Miche­lin could eas­ily im­prove lap times right now by us­ing a softer, grip­per rear, but they know that more rear grip will push the front more. Their idea is to cre­ate a bet­ter bal­ance be­tween front and rear grip.”

‘The more tech­ni­cal rid­ers will have a big­ger ad­van­tage’

“This year your po­si­tion on the bike, the way you brake and the way you use the throt­tle will be very im­por­tant. I think that the more tech­ni­cal rid­ers will have the big­ger ad­van­tage.

“The lat­est front tyres, es­pe­cially the soft com­pound, are much bet­ter than the tyres we tried last Novem­ber. There’s been a big 1949 Dun­lop 1950 Pirelli 1951 Avon 1952 Avon 1953 Avon 1954 Avon 1955 Avon 1956 Avon 1957 Avon 1958 Avon 1959 Avon 1960 Avon 1961 Avon 1962 Avon 1963 Avon 1964 Dun­lop 1965 Dun­lop 1966 Dun­lop 1967 Dun­lop 1968 Dun­lop 1969 Dun­lop 1970 Dun­lop 1971 Dun­lop 1972 Dun­lop 1973 Dun­lop 1974 Miche­lin 1975 Dun­lop 1976 Miche­lin 1977 Miche­lin 1978 Goodyear 1979 Goodyear 1980 Goodyear 1981 Miche­lin 1982 Miche­lin 1983 Miche­lin 1984 Dun­lop 1985 Miche­lin 1986 Miche­lin 1987 Miche­lin 1988 Miche­lin 1989 Miche­lin 1990 Miche­lin 1991 Dun­lop 1992 Miche­lin 1993 Miche­lin 1994 Miche­lin 1995 Miche­lin 1996 Miche­lin 1997 Miche­lin 1998 Miche­lin 1999 Miche­lin 2000 Miche­lin 2001 Miche­lin 2002 Miche­lin 2003 Miche­lin 2004 Miche­lin 2005 Miche­lin 2006 Miche­lin 2007 Bridge­stone 2008 Bridge­stone 2009 Bridge­stone* 2010 Bridge­stone* 2011 Bridge­stone* 2012 Bridge­stone* 2013 Bridge­stone* 2014 Bridge­stone* 2015 Bridge­stone* * = con­trol tyres

4Elec­tron­ics

A ma­jor rule tweak for 2016 sees the in­tro­duc­tion of uni­fied elec­tron­ics for all rid­ers and teams. Gone are the days of all the fac­to­ries work­ing on their own so­phis­ti­cated soft­ware for trac­tion con­trol, en­gine brak­ing and anti-wheelie. Mag­neti Marelli now sup­plies the ECU and all the Dorna-ap­proved soft­ware.

1Aero­dy­nam­ics

Du­cati pi­o­neered a dou­ble-wing on their Desmosedici last sea­son to help pre­vent wheel­ies, and in do­ing so in­spired other man­u­fac­tur­ers to fol­low. For 2016 rules re­gard­ing wings have been in­tro­duced on safety grounds. Wings are pro­hib­ited from ex­ceed­ing the width of the fair­ing, and con­cerns about sharp edges means each edge must be rounded and have a min­i­mum ra­dius of 2.5mm.

Prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing

Three 45-minute prac­tice ses­sions are staged (two on Fri­day – FP1 and FP2, and one Satur­day morn­ing – FP3) and the fastest 10 rid­ers on com­bined times at the end of those three ses­sions au­to­mat­i­cally ad­vance into the 15-minute Qual­i­fy­ing Prac­tice 2 (QP2). The other rid­ers go into the 15-minute QP1 shootout where the top two ad­vance into QP2 and those 12 rid­ers then bat­tle it out for po­si­tions on the first four rows of the grid. Those placed from third down­wards in QP1 take places from 13th on the grid. If QP1 or QP2 or both are can­celled, grid po­si­tions are de­ter­mined on com­bined times from prac­tice.

Mar­quez pre­dicts there’s go­ing to be a lot less el­bow­down ac­tion

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